ICRW co-hosts House of Lords briefing on violence against women and girls

Article Date

04 April 2014

Media Contact

Anne McPherson

Vice President, Global Communications email [email protected]

On March 10, ICRW co-hosted a briefing to discuss the epidemic of violence against women and girls, as well as solutions to this global problem, with the United Nations Women All Party Parliamentary Group.  Chaired by Baroness Helene Hayman, the briefing took place in the House of Lords, with members of Parliament, their staff, and members of civil society in attendance.

Panelists included:

  • Veronique Aubert, Senior Conflict and Humanitarian Policy and Research Advisor at Save the Children;
  • Dr. Sarah Degnan Kambou, President of ICRW; and
  • Dr. Charlotte Watts, Head of the Social and Mathematical Epidemiology Group and founding director of the Gender, Violence and Health Centre at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Pauline Latham MP, chair of the APPG UN Women, opened the event by introducing ICRW’s work and partnership with the APPG UN Women, with Baroness Lindsey Northover providing the keynote address, describing the global epidemic of violence against women, highlighting the latest statistics showing that one in three women worldwide experiencing violence in her lifetime.

Panelists discussed the prevalence and types of violence that women and girls face around the world and, highlighting findings from recent studies working to end violence against women, including ICRW’s GEMS program in Mumbai and Safe Cities program in Delhi.

Panelists also discussed violence in conflict and post-conflict areas, noting that women and girls living in conflict are particularly vulnerable to violence. According to Aubert, “War destroys normal protective mechanisms…we need to strengthen international efforts and coordination and bring perpetrators to justice.”

ICRW President Sarah Degnan Kambou described her experience of harmful practices and social change on the ground:

 “Working for many years in the IDP camps in Somaliland with CARE, it was my observation that sometimes in conflict and post-conflict settings where social systems are disrupted and in disarray that we find these very surprising windows of opportunity to introduce social change.  Working with partners on maternal and child health while also investing the practice of FGMC, I noted that because social systems had broken down, women were no longer practicing radical FGM, but using a less invasive pin prick.  Sometimes it’s through careful experimentation where we use operation research to test different strategies to see which are more effective, have greater impact, and where we should make our investment.  Other times, like my experience in Somaliland, we stumble upon opportunities where we’ve been working for years and suddenly because communities have been shaken up, new practice is adopted.”

Drawing from both lessons learned from the ground and evidence-based research conducted by ICRW and other civil society organizations, the panelists looked at innovative solutions, highlighting two interventions in particular: The need for men and boys to engage further in preventing violence and the need to continue to change social norms and attitudes.

In her closing remarks, Baroness Hayman re-iterated the responsibility of men and boys, stating “Unless boys recognize their responsibilities, girls will not be safe in their families or outside of the home.”